John Pesutto, leader of the Liberal Party in the Australian state of Victoria, said Monday that MP Moira Deeming’s presence at an anti-trans rally with neo-Nazi ties on Saturday is grounds for expulsion from the party. Pesutto told ABC radio that “Deeming not only attended this protest on the steps of Parliament, but was actively involved in different ways in the organisation and promotion of this protest at which there were speakers with known links to neo-Nazis.”
The rally comes after Victoria moved to ban Nazi symbols and has led to calls for the legislation to include the Nazi salute. Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes responded to the controversy on Monday and said the government will introduce legislation to ban the Nazi salute. “Victorians have zero tolerance of this behaviour and so do we. That’s why we’ll expand our nation-leading legislation banning the Nazi Hakenkreuz to include the Nazi salute,” Symes said. Victoria Premier Dan Andrews also joined the chorus of political leaders condemning the use of the Nazi salute in Melbourne.
CEO of the Human Rights Law Centre Caitlin Reiger joined calls for the ban, saying the Andrew’s government must introduce stronger anti-vilification laws. “This weekend we saw clearly that far right hate and extremism is on our streets, on social media and in public life, and it’s going unchecked,” she said.
In Australia, vilification laws operate on a state by state basis, and many states already ban the use of Nazi symbols. If seen to be connected to neo-Nazi organisations, Deeming could be in breach of the code of conduct for Victorian ministers and the Victoria Liberal Party guidelines for expulsion in the State Party Constitution. Specifically, Deeming’s behavior could be seen as “conduct gravely detrimental to the best interests of the Party.”